LUCKNOW: Tonnes of potato were found dumped at various roads leading to VVIP locations in state capital Lucknow on Saturday morning. While the district administration called it a mischief, opposition
cried hoarse, calling it a protest by potato growers.
CM Yogi Adityanath, however, reassured the potato farmers of increasing the support price of their produce, if needed.
In fact, UP potato farmers have been protesting against the low prices of their produce by dumping it in quintals in the open across the potato belt comprising districts like Agra, Mathura, Aligarh, Etawah, Kannauj, Mainpuri, Hathras and Farrukhabad following a glut in production and cold storages’ drive to empty their warehouses for new stock in the coming season. They have been demanding a support price of Rs 10 per kilogram against the present Rs 4.87 per kg.
Tonnes of rotten potato was found on roads in front of state Assembly, Governor and CM house, catching Lucknow police unawares on early Saturday morning. As per the CCTV footages, a vehicle was seen laden with sacks of potatoes unloading them on various VVIP roads.
Lucknow DM Kaushal Raj Sharma said that a truck which had sacks of potato dumped them in various parts of the city early on Saturday morning. "Now, whether this has been done by the farmers or by someone else is yet to be ascertained. So far, no farmers' group has claimed any responsibility for this act," he said.
Farrmers are protesting despite the fact that Yogi government, for the first time, fixed a minimum support price (MSP) for potato at Rs 487 per quintal in a bid to encourage potato growers. While CM Adityanath Yogi, who was in Meerut on Saturday, reiterated his government’s commitment to safeguard potato growers’ interests on priority and appealed them not to get swayed by divisive forces, both his deputies and state agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi smelt a political conspiracy behind the
They dubbed it to be an opposition’s ploy to malign the state government. “It seems to be pre-planned. It will be probed thoroughly as to how potato in such a huge quantity reached Lucknow and thrown on roads during the night,” Sahi asserted adding that it was just an attempt to tarnish government’s image as the potato, thrown on roads, was all rotten and discarded.
The minister claimed that the potato growers were free to sell their produce out of state for which the state government had offered them multiple sops. “No such step was taken by previous regimes ever in the state,” maintained Shahi.
Meanwhile, the roads leading to CM house covered with potatoes on Saturday morning left the district administration baffled and the officers immediately got on toes to get it removed as it was nothing short of a mess on the busy roads, especially the one in front of state assembly, leading to traffic jam. However, the incident exposed lackadaisical approach of law enforcement and intelligence agencies who failed to get a whiff of incident. As the issue snowballed, SSP Deepak Kumar came forward to claim that the vehicle used to ferry potato was identified. “We will book the mischievous elements under suitable sections of IPC,” said the SSP.
Speaking over the issue, Bharatiya Kisan Union member Harnam Singh said farmers werefacing a tough time. “As the crop was bumper, the farmers were forced to sell it for peanuts failing to extract even the production cost. Even the government is not keeping its promise,” he stated.
UP contributes highest over 31 per cent to country’s total potato production. Each year, the land under potato cultivation is growing exponentially and so is the production. This year, the potato production in the country has gone up by around 11 per cent. Approximately, 80,000 hectares of land is used for potato cultivation in state’s potato belt in Agra division only.